Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest
Pope Benedict XVI set this Feast on the Thursday after Pentecost ten years ago. It has only just crossed my radar, and I wondered whether this was a feast for clericalism, that non-synodal view of the Church that Pope Francis wants to leave behind. My suspicions were not placated when I saw the reading in the Divine Office was from Pope Pius XII, but I read on, and was reminded that he had made important changes to the celebration of the Eucharist, such as allowing people – including priests – to take a drink of water without breaking their fast. For anyone travelling a distance, or whose circumstances meant they attended a late Mass, he made it more possible to participate and receive Communion.
This extract from Mediator Dei insists that every Christian is called to be a priest ‘as far as is humanly possible’; today we might remember that we are each anointed at Baptism to serve as priest, prophet, and king. But Pope Pius was exploring these ideas before Vatican II. The language is perhaps unfamiliar, but the message is clear enough.
Christ is a Priest indeed; however, he is a Priest not for himself but for us, since, in the name of
the whole human race, he brings our prayers and religious dispositions to the eternal Father; he
is also a victim, but a victim for us, since he substitutes himself for sinners.
Now the exhortation of the Apostle, ‘Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,’
demands that all Christians should possess, as far as is humanly possible, the same dispositions
as those which the divine Redeemer had when he offered himself in sacrifice: that is to say, they
should with a humble attitude of mind, offer adoration, honour, praise and thanksgiving to the
supreme majesty of God.
Moreover, it demands that they must assume in some way the condition of a victim, that they
deny themselves as the Gospel commands, that freely and of their own accord they do penance
and that each detests and makes satisfaction for his sins.
It demands, in a word, that we must all undergo with Christ a mystical death on the Cross so
that we can apply to ourselves the words of St. Paul, ‘I have been crucified with Christ’ (Galatians